CAN accused of improprieties CAN president says it isn’t so.


City Council candidate Pamela Conley Ulich accused Malibu Community Action Network (CAN) of preparing some candidates for a Feb. 4 forum, while not doing the same for others. CAN President Steve Uhring denied the accusation, but said he had informed candidates Jay Liebig and Bill Winokur prior to the forum on what CAN issues are because they had asked.

Only four of the six candidates running for council, including former Mayor Walt Keller, were invited to the forum. Mayor Ken Kearsley and Councilmember Jeff Jennings did not receive invitations. CAN has made no secret that its intention is to unseat those two councilmembers, and place a third in the post being vacated by Councilmember Joan House, who is not running for re-election. CAN announced Tuesday that it is supporting Liebig, Keller and Winokur as candidates.

While Uhring, who served as moderator, asked questions at the forum, Conley Ulich could be seen looking at Winokur’s notes. She then stormed out of the room with her campaign manager and from another room she could be heard yelling, “They cheat! They cheat!”

Conley Ulich later returned to the main room. When asked to give her answer to a question, she said she had not heard it since she had not been there. She then said the other candidates might be able to fill her in because it appeared to her they had received the questions before the forum.

“I’m an attorney,” she said. “And we like to follow due process. If you give the questions to somebody, you’ve got to give them to everybody.”

Uhring said nobody had received the questions beforehand, but he said Liebig and Winokur approached him during the previous weekend about what the important issues are to CAN.

“I told them the issues are development, the LCP, pollution and schools,” he told the 50-person audience at Serra Retreat. “If that’s a surprise to somebody [that those are CAN’s issues], I apologize.”

In a telephone interview on Saturday, Uhring said he did not contact Conley Ulich after he had spoken with the other two candidates because she did not contact him. He said he also did not contact Keller for the same reason. Uhring added that a tape of the forum will be shown unedited on television, and people can decide for themselves whether they think the questions were given to some people prior to the event.

In a Monday interview, Conley Ulich said she could not agree or disagree with Uhring’s statement that he did not give out the questions, because she was not there when he spoke with Liebig and Winokur. Conley Ulich would not comment about her backroom conversation with her campaign manager.

Measure M, the Malibu Bay Company Development Agreement, which was defeated in the November election, was a major topic at the forum. Liebig said he voted against the measure, and thought little of any politician who favored it. Jennings and Kearsley supported Measure M. Keller and Winokur said they voted against the measure. Conley Ulich would not say how she voted, and has refused to answer the question during interviews.

Another item of discussion was the Local Coastal Program (LCP), and the ranging theories of how Malibu got into its battle with the California Coastal Commission. Some, including current councilmembers, say the LCP drafted by a committee that worked on it during the 1990s was “dead on arrival” for the Coastal Commission because it was inconsistent with the Coastal Act. Liebig, Winokur and Keller said that story is not true. They said the City Council withdrew the LCP before the Coastal Commission could consider it. Later, they said, in its place the city presented the commission with an alternative document, which was rejected.

“I don’t think there’s doubt in anybody’s mind here, except maybe Ken Kearsley, that it [the original LCP draft] was pulled,” Liebig said. “It was not ‘dead on arrival.’ That’s a fiction. And in its place, a document was submitted that I prefer to call the developer’s LCP.”

Conley Ulich said people should not dwell on how the situation was created, but rather focus on a solution. The city and the Coastal Commission are in court battling over whether Malibu residents can vote on an LCP the Coastal Commission drafted for the city. Taxpayers for Livable Communities (TLC), an organization formerly headed by Liebig, has joined the Coastal Commission in the case. Although Liebig resigned as the group’s president, he remains a co-plaintiff in the case.

Liebig said he has no problem being associated with TLC, an organization that has sued the city three times in addition to the Coastal Commission case, with one case involving eight causes of action.

“I feel totally vindicated,” he said. “And I feel like we’ve done something that needed to be done. It was kicking somebody in the butt, and saying ‘you’re not going to pull this on us.'”

Liebig said he is in favor of bringing back the original LCP draft, and seeing how much of it could be put into the Coastal Commission-written LCP.

Other candidates spoke about trying to amend the Coastal Commission LCP, but nobody was fully behind using the court as a method.

With the election lest than two months away, Winokur has left the country for two weeks on what he said was a business commitment that was made prior to his choosing to run for City Council. CAN activist Ozzie Silna, who is not a Malibu resident, represented Winokur at a candidate information session Monday at City Hall.